James McDonald landed his first Hong Kong winner since 2014 at Sha Tin on Sunday but confirmed he won’t be looking to make a permanent move to the city any time soon.
The 27-year-old kicked off the day in perfect fashion with victory aboard the John Moore-trained Monica in the opening event, however he struggled in the day’s three Group Ones.
His best result was fifth in the FWD Champions Mile with Rise High, however New Zealand pair Enzo’s Lad (Chairman’s Sprint Prize) and Eminent (QE II Cup) finished long lasts.
“Absolutely, it’s good to get a winner,” McDonald said. “I haven’t made too many trips back but [it’s good to ride in Hong Kong], especially on the big days.
“I get well supported. It’s just a shame those international horses went terribly for some reason.”
McDonald has been touted as the perfect fit for the Jockey Club but said he is currently focused on continuing his comeback from an 18-month ban for placing a wager on a horse he rode in Sydney.
“Not yet, I’ve only been back riding for a year so I’m just taking it as it comes. Maybe one day,” said the New Zealander.
However, he could be back in Hong Kong as soon as next month for the Group One Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2,400m), where he is likely to have a ride for Moore.
Moore was quick to heap praise on McDonald after his win aboard Monica, likening the jockey to his famous father – Australian Hall of Famer George – afterwards.
“Today he was ridden more patiently, which is what we wanted, and he was just given a gun ride by Australia’s premier jockey. Having him on board is like having George Moore,” John Moore said.
“He won a Group One on Xtension for me [the 2012 Champions Mile] but having him up here is a plus – particularly on a day like today.”
Bayliss rides brotherly love to victory
Jake Bayliss said he was “lucky to have a voice left” after nearly shouting himself hoarse supporting his brother Regan during his win aboard Champion Supreme in the FWD Insurance CCB (Asia) Handicap (1,600m).
After taking the John Moore-trained three-year-old right back, Regan Bayliss threaded his way through the field and flicked the switch in the last 200m to pick off leader Cordyceps.
“We’ve had plenty of proud family moments but that’s definitely right up there with one of my favourites,” Jake said.
“I’m lucky to have a voice left. I’ve just finished a contract in New Zealand and I had a week off so I came straight here to support him.
“The week so far has been absolutely unreal and it’s just topped it off to watch him ride a winner here at Sha Tin.”
Jake, who is a Group One-winning jockey like Regan, is preparing for a stint in Brisbane for the winter carnival and said he’d like to one day follow his brother to Asia.
“I’ll be based in Brisbane for three or four months and then I’ll have to make my decision what the next move is after that,” he said.
“I’m not too far off putting an application in for Singapore, hopefully I get the thumbs up there but if not I’ll go back to New Zealand. Singapore would be good and then Hong Kong is maybe the next step after that.”
Ho and Lui continue Golden run
Francis Lui Kin-wai hopes Golden Sixty will grow into a nice miler after the three-year-old took out an eventful Class Three FWD Insurance Act Private Handicap (1,200m).
While John Moore-trained favourite Dan Control had a torrid time in the run and finished sixth, Golden Sixty surged home in the straight under Vincent Ho Chak-yiu to overwhelm the leaders despite jumping from barrier 12.
It was the 17th time Lui and Ho have combined to salute this season and Lui is confident he has a handy type on his hands after the gelding made it two wins from two starts.
“If he strengthens up and grows up a little bit, I think he will be a good horse in the future,” Lui said. “He doesn’t do the silly things in races, he is just under control. I think he will be a miler in future.”
The Danny Shum Chap-shing-trained Lockheed finished second, while Aerohappiness crossed the line in third but was relegated to fourth after a protest was upheld.
The Tony Cruz-trained Smart Leader, ridden by Karis Teetan, was promoted to third after Joao Moreira aboard Aerohappiness interfered with his opponent with 150m to go in the race.
Ho went on to claim a double on the day, snaring the Class Two FWD Insurance Bocom Handicap (1,600m) aboard Ka Ying Star.
Three more for sizzling Lor
Gun trainer Frankie Lor Fu-chuen might have gone home without a winner in the feature events but he was certainly not left empty-handed, saluting with Everyone’s Joy, Solar Wai Wai and Flying Thunder.
The second-year trainer believes he may have unearthed another potential star in European import Flying Thunder after he stormed home to win the Class Two FWD Insurance Elite Handicap (1,200m).
After back-to-back seconds in Class Three, Flying Thunder produced his best in his first go in Class Two carrying just 114 pounds under jockey Grant van Niekerk.
“He is always close, he had two seconds and he had to carry the big weight in his last one, that’s why we went up to Class Two with the light weight, which was much better for him,” he said.
Lor was also impressed with Glorious Forever on Sunday, who hung on to run fourth in the Group One QE II Cup (2,000m).
“I can’t believe the time in the QE II, it was very fast. Glorious Forever ran very well. I think because there was heavy rain here last night and then this morning they didn’t water the track, it was very fast,” he said.
Meanwhile, Lor said Mr Stunning, who was scratched from the Chairman’s Sprint Prize with a foot issue, would be put away for the rest of the season in an attempt to prime him for his Longines Hong Kong Sprint defence in December.